Updated: Sep 2, 2019
There are many times in my work as a dentist when I have been bewildered by how much decay a person is developing in their teeth, and how rapidly it is appearing and progressing.
It is fair to say that I am relentless with my patients, questioning them about their food choices until we nail down the source of sugar that is feeding the cavities. This is an absolutely crucial step to take, because without knowing the cause we are just putting band aids on a serious and ongoing problem.
On too many occasions the source turns out to be the thing that gets sucked or chewed on all day . . . yet it is the very thing that everyone forgets to mention – breath mints or cough lollies.
Many people have the perception that breath mints and cough lollies aren't real lollies, therefore cannot do any real harm. This is a complete fallacy. When they contain sugar, these little treats are tiny bombs for teeth.
I understand why people use them. They taste really pleasant, help with dry mouth, freshen the breath (important for people who work in customer service) and alleviate a tickly sore throat. Occasionally people use them to overpower the smell of industrial chemicals at work.
The problem is that too many of them contain sugar. When they are slowly dissolved in the mouth they turn into an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for decay-causing bacteria. The results can be disastrous for the teeth . . . and the finances.
If you really need to use some form of breath mint or cough lolly, make sure you deal with the underlying problems too. . .
Have your teeth professionally examined and cleaned. There may be gum disease or tooth decay causing the breath problem.
See your GP if your digestion or sinuses could be the cause of bad breath.
Drink more water to keep your mouth fresh,
Find and use sugar-free versions if you still need the sweet taste,
And if you have a chronic cough, see your GP to investigate the cause.